Crash Testing The New Dainese Enduro Knee Guard
Dainese is a name steeped in mountain bike history. In the late 90’s their pads were synonymous with downhill racing and the majority of World Cup racers wore their protection. Mid-way through the first decade of the 21st century, Dainese almost completely disappeared. Their presence on the World Cup stage was virtually nill and Dainese products weren’t readily available on bike store shelves.
Over the last five years Dainese has steadily gained more attention in media and at the races. In 2016 the MS Mondraker team rode their products during Danny Hart's attempt for the World Cup overall and World Champs win. This year the Canyon Factory Team riders of Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace, and Kye A’Hern are wearing both their apparel and pads. A gap in the product line was in the aggressive trail or enduro segment and with Joe Barnes, Ines Thoma and Florian Nicolai on Dainese, there's no better time for the new knee protector.
Enduro Knee Guard Features
- Anatomical pre-curved construction
- Hard ABS shell for high-impact resistance
- Soft pads on the inner leg
- Weight: 520 grams
- MSRP: 129.99 USD
Dainese claims to have spent two years researching materials and riding while developing the new pad. It's said to be a fusion of their lighter use Trail Skin and heavy duty Armoroform knee pads, but with some changes. Looking at these new pads and their DH specific protection shows how legit the new Enduro Knee Guard is. The kneecap and upper shin are each protected with proper hard plastic shells. Between the two sections, and extending around the sides of the knee and shin is Dainese’s Pro-Armor material. It provides flexibility and added protection. On the inside of the knee you'll find three soft pads to take care of bumps against the frame, or knee-knocks when tumbling.
A layer of breathable neoprene called Airprene, sits between the knee and the pad. It also extends up above the pads, housing the velcro-elastic fastener that secures the pad around the lower thigh. The bottom of the pad features no adjustability. Instead, it relies on a firm elastic at the top of the calf and a strip of silicone inside the lower leg opening. Behind the knee, a light, jersey-like mesh, provides breathability.
Fitting the pad is performed with shoes off, thanks to the sock style design. Sliding the pads on for the first time, the anatomical design made itself very well known. Standing around in the Enduro Knee Guard is not something I would recommend. The firm materials used on the front of the knee and shin cause the lower part to dig into the leg. This won’t be an issue for riders that drop and raise their pads during a ride, but for those that slide on pads when getting ready and leave them until calling it a day, it could become frustrating.
On the bike, the new pads were far more comfortable. Only during sustained, seated climbing efforts was there a reminder of the pressure against the shin. It was a small fraction of the discomfort felt with both feet on the ground. When descending or pedalling out of the saddle the pre-curved shape made for a comfortable ride. There’s quite a bit of room around the kneecap in the pad, which feels different from softer more form fitting pad designs. Initially I thought this could be a problem but when I had an accident the pads remained perfectly in place. The impact was enough to cut into the hard material on the front of the right knee but no adjustment was required.
Dainese has a popular trail bike knee pad with the Trail Skins, but for some it may be too light on protection. The Enduro Knee Guard is a logical next step. Some of the comfort afforded from the Trail Skins more flexible design is lost with a bulkier, more robust pad. Also worth noting is the increased chance of punters gap with the Enduro Knee Guard, thanks to a short thigh extension, while a number of designs feature longer thigh extensions for more coverage.
The materials and shape of the new Enduro Knee Guard make for a distinct roomy fit around the knee. It doesn’t adversely affect the ability for the pad to stay in place over the course of a ride but it may take getting used to. Their aggressive pre-curved design and hard materials may not work well for everyone either but this design protects the knee very well. In the event of a crash, they remain in place and protect the knee beneath… and for 129.99 they had better!
Hit the Dainese website to learn more about their Enduro Knee Guard.